What does the identification of Krishna with time mean practically?
Transcription by– Keshavgopal Das & Ambuj Gupta
Question: Bhagavad Gita says that time is Krishna, what does it mean actually?
Answer: This can be understood at multiple levels.
First and foremost is that it is a way of understanding Krishna supremacy even in the material world. This material world has a saying “time and tide wait for no man”. Time is the most which in many ways all powerful. It controls everything and everyone. The attribution of the equation of time with Krishna indicates for us how Krishna is supreme even in this world.
At a second level it also indicates that there are problems which come in philosophy when the problem of evil becomes difficult to reconcile with the supremacy of God. When God is good why are problems there in this world? The answer to that off course, while not straight forward, is the fundamental that Krishna is Himself time. Through the changes caused by time Krishna gives the reactions of our own past deeds which may be good or bad depending on the way we have made our choices. Krishna has given us free will and through the agency of time, the reactions come upon us. Therefore the important point in this connection is to recognize that time is one of the foremost energies in the material world and that is not disconnected from Krishna.
For example, Bhagvatam states that when Bhishma is trying to analyze what is the cause of suffering of the pandavas and he says it is time. Off course time is Krishna. There are many places where time and Krishna are identified together. In the eleventh chapter of Bhagavad Gita, there Krishna is identified as time in the kala aspect of the vishwarupa. There time gets connected with the supremacy in the material world. In this material world people may not accept the existence of God. They may blaspheme God but ultimately they have to submit to the destruction that comes because of time. That sort of destruction is ultimately inevitable. So in that way they have to submit to time.
Another way is as the Bhagavatam states in the ninth chapter of first canto, Bhishma’s final talks before departing. He primarily focuses on the point that sarvaṁ kāla-kṛtaṁ manye, it actually because of kala that the suffering is coming. What this means is by saying that suffering is coming because of kala. That suffering aspect is indicated also in the Vishwarupa when Arjuna sees how the warriors of the battle field being devoured by the Vishwarupa, he ask who are you. Then Krishna tells I am kala. So kala represents the destructive aspect of material nature. kālo ’smi loka-kṣaya-kṛt pravṛddho.
Actually we see material world is connected with multiple changes, that there is creation, there is maintenance and there is destruction– srishti, sthithi, pralaya -all these three can actually give us the indication of supremacy of Krishna. For example, when we look at the omnipotence of Krishna or when we see new life being created. How whatever the specie especially among humans, how when they are in the womb from a small bubble of protoplasm, a human being like you and me are formed, is a great wonder. That is the example of the awe-inducing creative potency of the Lord.
Similarly there can be awe-inducing demonstration of the destructive potency of the Lord. That is what kala is. The point is to emphasize that when we want to see Krishna’s role in this world is to recognize that we and Krishna are not disconnected. We and Krishna are connected and connection between us is through the Vishwarupa. The controllership which manifests as the destruction. Therefore what we need to understand is that Krishna is the all attracted supreme Lord and how do we reconcile the all attractiveness, all lovingness of Krishna with the destruction that we see in this world. The destruction is primarily because this is a Krishna’s destruction of the temporary is to make way for the eternal. How when we see the material is destructible that inspires us to redirect our heart from the material to spiritual and in that way return back to Krishna ultimately. So it is the primary purpose or focus of the identification of Krishna with time.
Beyond this also we see that when we say Krishna is time that does not mean that, that is a reduction of Krishna to time alone. That’s quite clear that Krishna has the self existence beyond time. But rather it is a way that which we can expand our understanding of Krishna’s domain, of Krishna’s jurisdiction by recognizing that even what is done by time is not outside His control. In Queen Kunti’s prayers in the eighth chapter 1.8.28, Kunti says that:
manye tvāṁ kālam īśāna
manye tvāṁ kālam īśāna, I consider You to be the time. What does it mean? manye tvāṁ kālam īśāna, that means that Krishna is time and Prabhupada mention that connection over there that time is the impersonal manifestation of Krishna. Now the word impersonal often associated with Brahma joyti. That is not the only impersonal manifestation of Krishna. Impersonal means where anything personal aspect is not seen. Just as the in Brahma joyti the personal aspect is not seen. Similarly, in brahman also the personal aspect is not seen immediately. That does not mean that the personal aspect is not there. It’s very much there and we can see it when we connect with Krishna with sincere devotion.
By recognizing the supremacy of Krishna as time, especially in destructive manifestation, we can feel ourselves impelled with the sense of urgency to redirect our heart from matter to Krishna and to embrace Krishna in His supremely transcendental and sweet manifestation as the all attractive person Krishna. When this way the identification of Krishna with time helps us to remember a Krishna within the ups and downs of this world and to direct us our focus from the ups and downs to the supreme Lord who is eternally up and by connecting with we also go eternally up and never come down. yad gatva na nivartante tad dhama paramam mama, when we come attracted to Krishna then there is no returning back to this material world. Thank you.